Labour Party Conference report: Is Labour becoming the ‘Remain Party’?

Labour Leave’s John Mills reports for CIB on the Labour Party Conference. Is the Labour Party in danger of becoming the ‘Remain Party’?

Perhaps the most crucial issue for the Labour Party at the moment is its attitude to Brexit, as was evident at its recent Annual Conference.

The problem can be simply stated. Probably 90% of the delegates at the Conference were Remain supporters, most of whom, while cheering on Sir Kier Starmer, would like the UK to stay in the EU. Not far short of this percentage of Labour MPs are Remain orientated as well. This enthusiasm for the EU is not, however, reflected to anything like the same extent among Labour voters.

Of the 9.3m people who voted Labour in the 2015 general election, polls indicate that almost 3.5m voted Leave in 2016. This had a lot to do with the fact that almost 70% of the seats held at the time by Labour had Leave majorities.

The risks of Labour alienating these Labour leaning Leave voters were amply demonstrated again in the 2017 election. Although the vote for Labour rose by about 4m compared to 2015, increasing from 29% to 40% of the votes cast, Labour only gained four more seats while 130 Labour held constituencies had swings away from Labour to other parties. Remain votes piled up in London and other university cities, such as Canterbury, but drifted away in Wales, the Midlands and the North of England where Labour holds marginal seats crucial for the Party if it is ever to become the government again.

The key lesson for Labour to learn from these figures is that for it to become the Remain party is fraught with problems. This prospect may keep Conference delegates happy, but it risks Labour haemorrhaging votes in key areas of the country which it needs to win. This is why Labour Leave and others campaigned before and during the Conference for Labour not to commit itself to a Remain leaning second referendum.

We in Labour Leave are evidently not the only people who are aware of the dangers of Labour adopting too Europhile a stance. The Labour leadership is clearly conscious of the risks that this entails, which is why, in the end, the line was held. Labour is committed to keeping all options open, but not to campaigning for Remain.

Of course, no-one knows how events ae going to pan out over the coming crucial months, running up to the end of March 2019, when we are due to leave the European Union. In the meantime, however, keeping the Labour Party aware of the dangers of committing itself to policies generally to do with the EU which may make look totally inappropriate when the time comes to implement them, must make sense. High on this list is committing the Party to supporting having a second referendum which the pubic do not want, which would be highly undemocratic, and which may turn out to be impractical for a variety of political, timing and administrative reasons, especially if it could not be held before the date when we leave the EU,

In the difficult months ahead, Labour needs to think a lot more strategically than just pandering to the Remain sentiments of the delegates who were at the Labour Party Conference.

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  1. Edward SpaltonReply

    Some readers may not be aware of the remarkable sterling service which John Mills has given to the Independence movement over very many years. In the referendum of 1975 he was National Agent for
    the No side. He sits on the CIB committee, representing the Labour Euro Safeguards Campaign which publishes excellent informative bulletins. These are available on the CIB website.

    Opposition to the European project is not “Right Wing”. In the early days of CIB, Labour was the party of democratic national self government. Although they had many notable independence campaigners in their ranks the Conservative party (including Mrs Thatcher at the time) were very much the party of Europe.

  2. Adam HileyReply

    any of the 3 parties who decide to back a Remain stance at the 2022 election will cost them dearly in Corbyn’s case

  3. Robin LambertReply

    Tony Benn, Eric Heffer, Bob Crow (RMT union leader) Must be Spinning in their graves.At Such Supine Acceptance of Labour to the ”Globalist Low Wage,Low Skill” Economy EU Propagates. Royal Mail Cannot be ReNationalised under EU competitive directive EU/67/97 introduced by Lord mandelson &Forwarded by David Miliband in 2001..
    As Pathetic As the Tories Are, Labour Wont make Any headway outside London,Cambridge,Oxford,Edinburgh

    Lib-Dems had Reman in their 2017 general Election & Got Wiped out,only richmond Council Went Lib-dem in may this year As they do deals with the Greens in brighton etc.. SNP lost seats with their Pro-eU stance..
    No Political Party Lib-Lab-Con-SNP-Green-Plaid-SFein is Committed to Withdrawal immediate effect,Only UKIP who Keep shooting themselves by Not Focussing on Peoples Concerns on ‘Zero hours Contracts’ ‘Lack of School Places’ Roads full of Potholes” etc… Independents for me…

  4. ThomasReply

    Sadly, Labour is the Remain party now; anyone hoping it will change its position is mistaken. It must be said as well that Mrs Thatcher always believed in democracy and self-government, but she voted for the EEC on a purely economic basis. She eventually became a committed Eurosceptic when she realised what the European project really meant. The Tories, despite Mrs May’s Chequers hash, are still the only credible Brexit party.

  5. maryReply

    The implication of this article is that Labour is a Remain party (which is correct), implying that the Tories are the party for Leave, which is complete falsehood. The Tories are accomplished con- artists; they never have had any intention whatever of giving a meaningful Brexit. I regard them as a complete irrelevance. If anyone wants true Brexit and represents anything other than big bankers and business, then I am amazed that they even give the Tories the time of day. Or bother to find out what posturing and lies (often by omission) they’re coming up with at their conference.
    The tests for true Brexit include control of borders but I bet the Tories haven’t mentioned the Marrakech Agreement at their conference.

  6. ThomasReply

    The Tories undoubtedly have more than their fair share of Remainers, but they are the only party with strongly pro-Brexit grassroots and a hundred Brexiteer MPs. They are our best shot at getting a proper Brexit. They are the party for business, unlike Labour with its magic money tree, but if you go and talk to the ordinary party members, you will find that they are mostly decent, straight forward, patriotic men and women.

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